I stood frozen at the entryway; drenched in fear. My feet buzzing from their stagnation. How long have I lingered? Nothing more than a specter haunting the edge of this portal. Ahead lay a scene so wondrous, it may well have been spirited from my dreams. Colors unknown and fabrics foreign to the touch. A veritable sensory bazaar. An intoxicating mix of sights, sounds, even smells.
In years past I regarded such displays with an envious heart. Scenes which flaunted their wares to the deep longing within. Held in my ghostly state as others sauntered past. Each a living personification of my hidden desire. How they moved about so freely in and out of this place with little fanfare or attention paid. Gliding among the delicate menagerie with a confidence given of assumed privilege; a birthright.
Should I progress, feet unbound, would invite chaos. I, a verboten blight upon the sanctity envisioned. I’ve stood here before. To a familiar fault. The will wanting; but unable. Idling until fate releases me.
This moment shall fare differently. Seizing control, my legs move to purpose. Stepping across the boundary into the excluded expanse. My skin crawls from piercing gazes upon my sudden intrusion. Each foot following the other commits me further to this act. Taking notice to ensure my bearing, it occurs to my addled mind — I’ve made it.
Just a few paces away, a lacy confection which draws the eye. Its allure whispers of my future. Promising to amend a stolen past. Around me, other women feign disinterest behind secretive glances to discover my intent. My very presence suspect, perverse.
With one final breath to calm the nerves I inch ever forward. Standing here, not but an arm’s length from its radiance, feels sublime. I’ve only dreamt of turning morbid fear to courage. My entire body trembles, shivering with anxiety. I need only reach out and take hold.
"Can I help you sir?"
"Shopping for your girlfriend?"
Her words seemed a mile away. Caught in her glaring stare I paused for an answer. Did she know? Was I that transparent?
"Oh, Yeah. Um, I’m looking for a cute bra for my — girlfriend."
"Let me guess. Is she about your size?"
I turned down the offer to try some samples in the dressing room. I found myself in line at the register. Hands clutching three sets of lingerie tightly against my chest as if to hide from embarrassment. I could not have stood out more. Towering above the ladies queued up with their purchases. My stance and demeanor giving voice to my intent. After fighting off the knowing smirks plastered onto the faces of the cashiers, I left this horrid but wonderful place. Hushed tones following my departure.
On the drive home a bout of exhilaration washed over me. A Christmas jitter radiating throughout my every bone. The mere thought of being poised before a mirror, glamorous in all of my feminine glory, sent my blood pumping. Like I was avoiding capture, escaping with forbidden loot.
Materializing into my room in record time, I sent the bag flying onto the bed. Every article of male clothing suddenly brought a searing pain to my skin. My dysphoria subsiding with each offending garment removed. I now basked in this blank slate upon which I would see my dreams turn to reality.
Reaching into the bag I removed my favorite set. A matching bra and panty; dark blue with ornate black lace trim. The feel of such magical cloth in my hands was surreal. I’ve stepped into a pair of underwear before, but never like this. It caressed my legs all the way up. Slipping my arms into the straps of the bra, I looked down to a sight I never thought possible. Though I will admit a failure to account for the difficulty in clasping it.
I had already set aside a dress, borrowed if you will, from a relative. I did not want to view myself in it absent the proper care and forethought. I slipped the dress over my head and let it fall naturally around my altered form. This was it, I was ready.
Mirrors are a funny thing. They are vital to a modern existence. Yet they sometimes show us a reality which the mind wants to deny. I had never been fond of my reflection as a boy, or pictures for that matter. Like a vampire who regards it with contempt, it shows a vision of reality. The one others see and judge you by. For a vampire, it reveals nothing; their lack of reflection is a lack of humanity. Its emptiness is symbolic of their unnaturalness.
For me, as a boy, the mirror reflected something, someone. Though it may as well have been nothing; for whatever the creature held in its frame was, it wasn’t me. Yet it became a painful reminder of what I was not. It was how others saw me, knew me.
Yet here, standing as I was. Clad head to toe in proper form — beauty. Immediately I knew the vision in front of me. I’d seen her every night in my dreams. She had always been there. Hidden by my inability to see her through another’s eyes. This dress, and its accouterments did not make me a woman; they only revealed her.
The scarcity of such moments in my life are glaringly profound. It was in this moment, unlike any other; that I discovered my true self, my identity. Where doubt once perforated my every thought, only certainty remained. Seeing her before me, a vision beyond compare — I wept.
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